Time travel that uses magic as the transportation mechanism is considered fantasy. Time travel that involves technology is science fiction. I have also included books that embrace the parallel universe theories. The most impactful time travel short story is Ray Bradbury’s “ A Sound of Thunder”. Future citizens go on time travel vacations with explicit instructions to not deviate from the path. A butterfly is inadvertently stepped on and that changes the course of history. Don’t mess with the time space continuum!
Alison Goodman – Singing the Dogstar Blues
I think this book is cursed with a title that doesn’t market well. This is an excellent time travel adventure and mystery thriller involving a tough female and an alien. Joss, daughter of a famous newscaster and a sperm donor is rather rebellious, having been kicked out of several schools and is currently attending a time travelling university. The first alien student admitted to the university is Mavkel who ends up as Joss’s study partner. Mavkel’s twin has died and Mavkel will die soon too if he doesn’t find someone to join minds with. Because the setting is future Australia, there are plenty of neat Aussie terms.
Emily Hainsworth – Through To You
Cam feels destroyed by the death of his girlfriend, Viv. He puts up a shrine at the accident site, recoils into himself, even further away from his friends and family. Then he sees a stranger at the accident site, shimmering in green light who calls out to him. Nina has crossed over from a parallel world. In Nina’s world, it was Cam who died in a hit-and-run at the exact site that in Cam’s world his girlfriend, Viv, was killed. Cam is elated that he can be with Viv in the other world and Viv can be with Cam again. While the universes have the same people, their characters and circumstances are different. More than a story about dealing with the sudden death of a soul mate, it is about making the best of the hand that you are dealt. You can either let setbacks consume you, or deal with it and move on. Excellent writing with compelling characters that grow and perhaps twist, this book is a winner. Brilliantly developed and pieced together, it is a story that can make the reader think, really think about daily choices and the different paths a life can take.
Ben Jeapes – Time’s Chariot
This rather complex novel is best for older teens. It helps to have read a lot of science fiction, specifically time travel type novels. This science fiction mystery has plenty of twists and turns. From CIP: Field Operative Rico Garron embarks on a routine expedition in 5000 B.C. only to find himself embroiled in the world’s first murder investigation.
Michael Lawrence – The Withern Rise series: A Crack in the Line, Small Eternities, The Underwood Sea
Alrighty, for those who are looking for multiple universe type books, this is the series! Book one starts out simply enough. Alaric discovers a parallel universe where he was born a girl, Naia, and her mother is still alive. Alaric’s mother was recently killed in a car crash, so he is drawn to Naia’s universe where he can see his mother. (This is creepily mindblowing. Every decision that we make can lead to a chain reaction of events. For example, if leaving work 5 minutes later means avoiding a tanker truck explosion that would have meant death, you would never meet your spouse, and never had children.) Book 2 introduces a few more parallel universes and book 3 – well, the author kindly lets the reader know where the kids are by numbering the universe in the chapter heading. Most of the action takes place in universes 39, 43 and 47, but by the end of the book there are hundreds of parallel universes.
Madeleine L’Engle – A Wrinkle in Time (Newbery Award), A Swiftly Tilting Planet, A Wind in the Door, Many Waters
Three extraterrestrial beings take Meg and her friends to another world to save her missing father. This first book in the trilogy is deserving of the Newbery. It used to be on all of the reading lists, but perhaps not so much anymore. The classic themes of good vs. evil, and love conquers hate run through these books. My favorite is Many Waters where the twins travel back to the time of Noah and the ark.
Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter – The Long Earth
The Long Earth is a sizzling brain stimulator full of what if scenarios and philosophical musings delivered in doses of witty banter between explorers Joshua and Lobsang. Folks on Datum Earth, our Earth, discovered the Long Earth, an infinite number of differing versions of Earth, on what became known as Step Day. Instructions to make a step box appeared on the Internet and countless numbers built the simple device and flipped the switch not knowing the outcome. Turns out, the switch helped them to step into the next alternate Earth. Word of warning – if you step while on the 15th floor of a building, you’d appear in the next Earth plummeting through the air to your probable death. Accidents did happen. Droves of people set out to explore and/or settle the many Earths with most people sticking to the first couple of hundred versions.
Joshua Valiente’ is a natural stepper, not needing a step box to cross Earths. He was birthed as his mother accidentally stepped and this makes him exceedingly unique. Lobsang is the soul of a Tibetan motorcycle repairman, reincarnated as a computer program. (hmmm – nod to Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance?) Lobsang is the all-knowing Big Brother, head of the corporation of the Long Earth and enlists the help of Joshua to explore the millions of Earths. Consider ocean Earths, ice age Earths, and every possible twist and turn of evolution creating interesting animals. Consider mankind’s reaction to endless possibilities and opportunities.
This is by far the best alternate/parallel universe writing I have read. The story simultaneously befuddles and stimulates my little brain. Every time I thought – here’s a problem that would arise – the authors introduce and address the issue. As soon as I finished, I wanted to go back and re-read. That never happens for me. Hurray for my Kindle! I used the note feature again and again while reading. Absolutely brilliant! Highly recommend.
James Valentine – Jumpman Rules #1: Don’t Touch Anything
This is a fun time travel adventure. Future teenager Theodore is stranded in the 21st century when his time travelling device is inoperative. Two teens, Jules and Gen get sucked into Theodore’s time jumps.